The Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights has serious doubts as to the compatibility of certain
elements of draft counter-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom
with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights
and the Strasbourg Court’s case-law.
The detention of terrorist suspects for up to 42 days without
charge, with limited judicial review can lead to arbitrariness,
in breach of Articles 5 (right to liberty and security) and 6 (right
to a fair trial) of the Convention. In addition, the proposed legislation
is unduly complicated and is not readily understandable.
The committee also finds the proposal to involve the legislature
in the extension of pre-charge detention in specific cases as unacceptable.
It is essential to maintain a clear separation of powers as regards
judicial and legislative functions.
Terrorism must be fought with means that fully respect human
rights and the rule of law, excluding all forms of arbitrariness.
Injustice breads terrorism and undermines the legitimacy of the
fight against it. The committee therefore considers that the draft
British legislation should be examined by the Parliamentary Assembly
within the framework of a wider comparative study of anti-terrorism
legislation in Council of Europe member states, with the assistance
of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission).